Can You Predict What Will Be Hot in HR?


That’s the answer to the question posed by the headline.

It’s not a high prediction standard, but, hey, it’s more success than seismologists have with predicting earthquakes.

What we mean by what’s hot in HR is the topics that HR movers and shakers are most engaged with on social media and are being intensely covered in articles and blogs. Using HRmarketer software, we identify the three hottest topics of each week and publish the list in our e-newsletter “What’s Hot in HR.” Register for the e-newsletter at

The value of knowing what’s hot in HR is it’s a great idea to release content on topics when they are hot, when people are clamoring for content about them. For example, it would be a much better idea to release content about the SHRM Annual Conference in June, the month of the event, than in October.

To examine if you can predict what’s hot, we took a look through the week-by-week results (the results since October are shown at the bottom of the post), and examined them for any obvious, predictable hot topics. We found only a few, but also gleaned some other insights.

Some hot topics you can predict well in advance

1. Major HR conferences are likely to be hot topics around the time they are held. HR technology was a hot topic the week of Oct. 12, and the HR Technology Conference was hot the following week. The conference was, of course, held in October.

2. Some holiday-related content is bound to become hot. Veteran employment was on the list the week of Nov. 16, and Veterans Day was Nov. 12.

Because these topics are predictable, they aren’t likely to be exceptionally hot. Except, of course, if something unexpected happened, such as a major announcement at a major HR conference.

Some hot topics you know will be hot right away

The hottest HR topics, however, tend to come out of left field, and that they will become hot is HR circles is about as obvious as a baseball hitting you in the face.

Examples of this include:

1. A major company makes a headline-creating HR move. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced in February that the company would no longer permit telecommuting. That week, remote employees was a hot topic. The next week, telework was hot.

2. A major magazine covers HR. If a major publication puts HR news on its cover, it’s going to get heavy play. Bloggers will be chiming in with opinions, and influencers will be discussing it on social media. Remember last summer’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” commentary in The Atlantic and all the resulting conversations? Well, several related topics became hot as a result, including maternity leave.

Most of the time you just don’t know

Despite the above cases, most of the time it’s not obvious what will become hot.

Certainly, the topics covered in trade publication websites can become hot, but so can the topics of leading HR-related Twitter chats, such as #TChat. Or a blog post could go viral.

Unless you know what the leading trades are going to showcase, most of the time you can’t predict if a topic is going to be hot or not.

Now, certain topics do tend to stay in the limelight more than others. These are generally highly debated topics that publications, bloggers and others frequently produce content on, because they know there is demand. A prime example is employee wellness, which seems to become hot every month or two. But, when exactly, it will become hot again is hard to tell.

Then there are seasonal hot topics. For example, we saw flu shot become hot in January and sick leave in April. But again, it’s hard to tell, exactly, when they will become hot.

So, ultimately, most of the time we just don’t know what will become hot. Take a look for yourself below:

April 26, 2013: background check, mobile recruiting, predictive analytics

April 19, 2013: organizational culture, workplace violence, HRMS

April 12, 2013: HCM, temporary employees, wellness

April 5, 2013: employee morale, H-1B Visa, sick leave

March 29, 2013: return to work, reference checking, workers comp

March 22, 2013: referral program, skills gaps, employee attitudes

March 15, 2013: job growth, temporary workers, employment verification

March 8, 2013: employee appreciation, employee motivation, telework

March 1, 2013: remote employees, HR analytics, employee wellness

Feb. 22, 2013: ATS, employee referral, minimum wage

Feb. 15, 2013: workplace bullying, talent acquisition, Affordable Care Act

Feb. 8, 2013: employee development, qualified candidate, work culture

Feb. 1, 2013: applicant tracking, hiring interview, Twitter recruiting

Jan. 25, 2013: maternity leave, benefit communication, interview tips

Jan. 18, 2013: flu shot, employee recognition, corporate recruiting

Jan. 11, 2013: employment contract, performance review, personal productivity

Jan. 4, 2013: minimum wage, unpaid internships, work-life balance

Dec. 21, 2012: background check, career communities, HR certification

Dec. 14, 2012: right to work, social HR, telework

Dec. 7, 2012: stress management, wellness program, employee selection

Nov. 30, 2012: bad bosses, interview tips, skills gap

Nov. 16, 2012: veteran employment, health reform, salary increase

Nov. 9, 2012: workforce management, social learning, unemployment rate

Nov. 2, 2012: employee referral, social listening, talent community

Oct. 26, 2012: employee development, workplace bullying, work culture

Oct. 19, 2012: ATS, employee engagement, HR Technology Conference

Oct. 12, 2012: social network, HR technology, passive candidate

Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars HR team member Eric Anderson.

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